Relative Strangers by Paula Garner [SPOILER-FREE ARC REVIEW]

29494232SYNOPSIS

Why is there a gap in Jules’s baby album? A wry and poignant coming-of-age novel about finding the truth in lies, salvaging hope in heartbreak, and making peace with missing pieces.

Eighteen-year-old Jules has always wished for a close-knit family. She never knew her father, and her ex-addict mother has always seemed more interested in artistic endeavors than in bonding with her only daughter. Jules’s life and future look as flat and unchanging as her small Illinois town. Then a simple quest to find a baby picture for the senior yearbook leads to an earth-shattering discovery: for most of the first two years of her life, Jules lived in foster care. Reeling from feelings of betrayal and with only the flimsiest of clues, Jules sets out to learn the truth about her past. What she finds is a wonderful family who loved her as their own and hoped to adopt her — including a now-adult foster brother who is overjoyed to see his sister again. But as her feelings for him spiral into a devastating, catastrophic crush — and the divide between Jules and her mother widens — Jules finds herself on the brink of losing everything.


Review

*I WAS SENT A PHYSICAL ARC IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW*

This book is definitely for fans of Contemporary. I just began to get back into this genre of books, and when I saw the synopsis for Paula Garner’s newest book, I knew I had to get my hands on it.

It took me longer to read this one because I wanted to pace myself. As the synopsis states, Jules ends up finding out about a foster family that she was placed in when she was still very young. This sets up the whole plot of the book after a few chapters in. Though, it isn’t until after she actually meets them when things started to get complicated.

My foster family. The term seemed ludicrous, something made-up. Where were they now? Did they ever think of me? Was I just one in a long stream of foster children? And what about the boy?

This quote actually made me feel for the main character. I’ve never been in foster care myself, so I wouldn’t know what it would feel like to know that you had been. This small part of the book gave me an insight into that wonder. Jules is clearly at a loss for how to think of this newly found information, and I find that to be completely believable. Garner really did a great job of implementing that into this book, and I applaud her for that.

I reminded myself that this person was a pseudo-brother, not a potential love interest—and to him I was certainly a sister figure.

This quote perfectly captured the meaning in the synopsis. What would you do if you were meeting someone who had been your “brother” over ten years ago for the first time, and he was a beautiful thing? I know I wouldn’t just be standing there thinking, ‘Oh, hey. That guy was my foster brother.’

Now, I know this might actually be weird or disgusting to some people, but you have to put it into her perspective. Jules was only months old when she went to the foster care, and she was barely two when she was taken back. She barely knows who this guy is, and she wouldn’t have known who he was, had it been up to her mother. Thinking this, there is an easy possibility that these two could have ended up together and have never known the actual truth of Jules’s past. Thinking along those terms, it’s understandable that she is going to have some sort of feelings for him.

Next, I want to quickly address something I really liked in this book. Jules’s best friend Eli happens to be a big part of the story. Now, you’d think that he wouldn’t be because she also has two girl best friends that take up most of the storyline as well, but then you’d be wrong. Eli is, from what I gathered, like a brother to Jules. She doesn’t come outright and say it, but you can make the connections here and there. My first impression of him was that he was kind of weird, and it takes a lot for me to think someone is weird. But I think it’s pretty weird to have two pet rats living in your house, so that did it for me.

Not only that, but the amount of LGBT+ rep in this book was pretty amazing. Jules is straight, this we can know for sure because of her preferences, but it will be later revealed in the book what I’m talking about when you all pick it up.

One last thing I would like to address is the last few chapters of the book. I’m normally not such a worry wart when I’m finishing up a book, but this really got me here. Toward the end of the middle of the book, my heart was ripped out of my chest TWICE. Then, I was really let down with the ending chapters. I would have accepted a little look into the future, like an epilogue for Jules or something like that. But instead, what we got was basically a summary set in three to four chapters. I felt like they didn’t really do anything but give us information and drag on and on, except one part between Jules and the foster brother that I can’t spoil.

Other than that, this book was pretty phenomenal. I loved the character development through all of the characters, and I loved that, for the most part, the book was smooth and easy to understand. I liked that Garner made it possible for us to relate to the main character in ways I didn’t think I, myself, would be able to, and I loved that she gave us insight on a subject that seems out of this world for a lot of people. For this, I give this book 4/5 stars.

I do suggest that you pick this book up and read it, especially now that it has been officially published and released to the world.


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9879155Paula Garner spends most of her time writing, reading, or making good things to eat. Her debut YA novel, Phantom Limbs, was published in 2016 by Candlewick Press and is a 2017 Illinois Reads selection for grades 9-12. Paula lives in the Chicago area with her family and a very bad cat. Find out more about Paula and her books at www.paulagarner.com or follow her on Twitter at @paulajgarner.

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Chemistry Lessons by Meredith Goldstein [SPOILER-FREE REVIEW]

ChemistryLessonsSYNOPSIS

For seventeen-year-old Maya, the equation for happiness is simple: a dream internship at MIT + two new science nerd friends + a perfect boyfriend = one amazing summer. Then Whit dumps her out of the blue. 

Maya is miserable until she discovers that her scientist mother, before she died, was conducting research on manipulating pheromones to enhance human attraction. If Maya can finish her mother’s work, maybe she can get Whit back. But when her experiment creates chaos in her love life, she realizes that maybe love and loss can’t be understood using the scientific method. Can she learn to trust the unmeasurables of love and attraction instead?


Review

*I WAS SENT A PHYSICAL ARC IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW*

Before I start this review, I want to say a big thank you to HMHteen for sending me an arc in return for a review. I can’t even tell you how excited I was when I got approved for my request. So, once again, thank you.

This book was so cute! I loved the aspect of a teenage girl exploring the scientific factors of love. I’m not a huge science geek, but I know enough about it to understand what was going on in this book.

Maya is a senior in high school, and her boyfriend broke up with her before their “big night”. This actually really affects her throughout the first few chapters, which is understandable and relatable. I may only be a freshman in high school right now, but I at least know what it looks and feels like to be broken up with someone. She’s heartbroken and feels like it’s the end of her world.

That’s part of the issue, Maya. I think on some level I’m finally admitting to myself that you and I are just too different.

This part, I can understand. Maya and her boyfriend ARE different, and you can see this throughout the entire book. There are hints everywhere! I know that would be hard to admit to any girl who is hearing the words “I’m breaking up with you” for the first time.

This also helps to build up Maya’s character development A LOT. She was already pretty determined before this happened, just not about such a specific subject. She works as a part-time intern at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, so she’s pretty much set for where she is going to go to college as well as who she will have as friends. I don’t think she ever actually considered what her life would be without her boyfriend, and that’s part of the problem why she is so hurt. She had her entire life mapped out, and he was apart of ALL of it.

This, I actually found to be a little make-believe. I know some girls and guys out in the world believe they have everything and expect to stay together with their partner forever. But in some cases, that isn’t always true. I really got the feeling as if Maya’s relationship with her boyfriend was perfect, and by that, I mean that they never had any problems with anything.

Moving on from that, Maya’s best friend Bryan is one character you can’t take out of this book. He is literally always there for her, and he’s always making sure she is okay. Especially after her breakup, Bryan was there to comfort her. I found this to be absolutely amazing, mainly because everyone wants that friend who is there to help pick up the pieces after everything goes down.

Of course he’d do this right before you took off for Plymouth for a long weekend. He knew you’d disappear and be someone else’s problem for the next few days.

This is a part I knew I couldn’t forget. Bryan has a way of hitting Maya with the awful truth of it all, but at the same time, cheering her up. She’s already lost her mom, and now she’s lost her boyfriend. I think it’s safe to say that she is going to need her friend more than anything at this point, and I loved the fact that this character was added to this book. Without him, I feel like this story would have been incomplete.

The last thing I want to talk about is Maya’s mother’s experiments. While I don’t support the secret experimenting of pheromone levels on your best friend and stranger (this wasn’t Bryan, I promise), I did like how it helped out this story. In a way, she was connecting with her deceased mother by continuing an experiment she had done before she died. This was extremely sad to see Maya getting emotional over, but I also loved how she finally knew that she was doing something her mother would have wanted to do.

To wrap this up, I want to give one last thank you to HMHteen for sending me this book for review. I loved it, and I know I will definitely be reading more from Meredith Goldstein soon. For everything I talked about, I am giving this book 4/5 stars. I do suggest preordering this book, and I hope you all like it!


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YwUD3pRM_400x400Meredith Goldstein is an advice columnist and entertainment reporter for The Boston Globe. Her first novel “The Singles,” was released by Penguin/Plume on April 24, 2012.

In March of 2016, Grand Central Publishing acquired a memoir based on her column, Love Letters. It is scheduled to be released by Spring of 2018.

Meredith was born in New Jersey, raised in Maryland, went to Syracuse University, and now lives in Roxbury, Massachusetts with a carnival-size cotton candy machine that she bought for herself on her 30th birthday.

[BLOG TOUR + GIVEAWAY] The Voting Game by Peter Gulgowski

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BOOK INFORMATION

Title: The Voting Game
Author: Peter Gulgowski
Publisher: Self-published
Publication date: 06 March 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian


SYNOPSIS

In the year 2084, Every Interaction Counts.

Darrius Young’s sixteenth birthday brings a harsh reality: It’s time to join the Voting Game. Playing is mandatory and each day may be his last.

In this bleak future’s society, citizens rate their interactions with one another. Highest scorers are members of an elite upper class. An average score means you can keep playing.

Fall below average? You are taken and killed by the government entity known only as The Bureau.

Darrius has prepared his whole life for this challenge, knowing the reality he will soon face — especially after the death of his mother to the game.

But despite preparation, he’s losing — and not just the Game. Suddenly the people he loves are getting brutally downvoted and taken by the Bureau. It’s soon clear there’s a target on his back, drawn there by the Bureau itself. And Darrius has no idea why.

In a frantic race against time against a society that’s already sentenced him to death, can Darrius save himself and those around him before it’s too late?


PLAYLIST

I have always been a music person, and with music, comes enjoyment for me. Reading and listening to music has always boosted my mood, so I wanted to share that with you all through this small playlist.

Alive — Sia

The Chain — Fleetwood Mac

All We Do — Oh Wonder

Almost Over — Aquilo

Another Love — Tom Odell

Astronaut — Simple Plan

Born to Be My Baby — Bon Jovi

Comatose — Skillet

Control — Halsey

Dear Theodosia —Regina Spektor

Drug Dealer Friend — Macklemore


Review

Peter Gulgowski is one of my favorite authors for a reason. He creates amazing stories and characters that take you by the hand and shock you wordless. I was so happy to be able to reread this book, especially for this amazing tour!

This book is centered around a government that keeps its country’s population down by using clickers. Clickers are these little remote like devices that allow you to vote for a person based on their behavior. These votes would reflect on your arm, where a screen sits just below the surface of your skin. If you fall below a 2.5, you’re out. I actually found this to be both super creepy and super cool at the same time.

“They came a few days after you fell below 2.5. For a day or two you thought the rule didn’t apply to you. Then, just when your nerves returned to normal, they came for you.”

I find this quote, in particular, to be very nerve hitting. And I don’t mean that as a pun. This really puts into perspective how corrupted the government has become. It gives a little insight into how people could turn on you, just by the click of a button. That is what is scary and creepy.

“Stay out of this, kid. Your dad shouldn’t have fucked around with us. He should know his place in society.”

This quote is a little harsher. Everyone who is under a four rating is considered to be apart of the lower ranks. Anyone above a four is basically rich and powerful. This is how the president is, as you can imagine.

“They gave Mom two days before they came for her. You’ll have enough time to get out of the state,” he says. “Then, you’ll need to come back; leave him. Or they’ll come for you next.”

Now, this one is a little more serious. This was a big part of the book that impacted the rest of the decisions made. I was actually a little scared for the character. I mean, who wouldn’t be if they were also in this position?

I fell in love with everything that occurred in this book. I fell in love with the characters (except that president. No one likes him), and that ending took me by surprise. I don’t think I’ve expressed enough just how crazy that was. For this, I give this book 5/5 stars. I highly suggest you check out this book, and all of the other books for Peter. Trust me, you’ll want to.


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gaKQq8r8_400x400Peter Gulgowski was born and raised in a suburb in Wisconsin. He began writing at the age of fourteen during a study hall session in which he had already finished his homework. Several years later, his debut novel, The Government, would become published. Mr. Gulgowski remains a student, with hopes of becoming a full-time writer.

Inspired by authors such as J.K. Rowling, John Green, Veronica Roth, and so many others, Gulgowski hopes one day to join their ranks in inspiring the next generation of storytellers.

His latest novel, ‘The Voting Game’ became the #1 New Release in Teen & Young Adult LGBT Issues Fiction and is his fourth bestselling book. Currently, he is working on several new novels to be released later in 2018.

Author Links
Author website — http://www.petergulgowski.com
Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/officialpetergulgowski/
Goodreads — https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15397371.Peter_Gulgowski
Instagram — http://instagram.com/PeterGulgowski
Twitter — http://twitter.com/PeterGulgowski
YouTube — https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsgL-DSJ6VW5I0bXfeom0gA


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For the giveaway, multiple winners will be drawn. 1 winner will receive a paperback copy of The Voting Game (US residents only), and 5 winners will receive a digital copy of the book (international residents).

Link to Rafflecopter — http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/950d261624/

Oshun Rising (Book 2 of the Trinity Forest Series) by Jennifer Alsever [SPOILER-FREE REVIEW]

511L73zAh4LSYNOPSIS

OSHUN has everything a young pop star could ever want—fame, fortune, and beauty to spare. But there’s something dark inside of her, rising like the tide, fighting to be heard. Something that terrifies her. Because once she lets it out, she knows there’s no going back.

EMBER is drowning. Fighting for consciousness, struggling to make sense of the strange dreams she’s been having—prophecies of murder, deception, and blackmail. But once she begins to untangle them, she realizes that they might not be dreams at all…and if she doesn’t find a way to stop what she’s seeing, more people will die.

MADDIE is barely staying afloat. How can she be expected to care about school when her best friend Ember is still missing, presumed dead? So when Ember’s brother calls and tells her about his theory about a pop star who may be involved in Ember’s disappearance, she rallies him to take a road trip to check it out.


Review*I WAS SENT A PHYSICAL COPY IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW*

Firstly, I want to give a big thank you to Jennifer for sending me a copy of this book. She didn’t have to do that, and I really appreciate having it to read and add to my shelf. Secondly, can I just give a holy crap?

This book was intense. As we found in the last book, EMBER BURNING, Ember lost the battle against Xintra and Zoe. Tre was left to watch as she was “rebirthed” and basically transformed to be someone she wasn’t: a practical pop star that reveals too much skin on stage.

The entire world was left wondering who this new Oshun girl was, and her songs quickly became hits across the charts. She also left Ember’s brother wondering if she was Ember. I actually found this book to be even better than the first. Considering the fact that there were more characters involved and definitely helped the story develop.

Maddie has this huge crush on her allegedly dead best friend’s brother Jason. He actually drives her to the point of insanity where she has to leave college to pick him up; that way, they can track down the new popstar Oshun that he is convinced is Ember. I did feel as if some of their parts in the book were filler parts for something bigger happening. I’m not a huge fan of filler parts, but I don’t dislike them either. It’s more of a neutral feeling.

Here are some things that I liked about the characters:

OSHUN – Oshun is everything I imagine in a spoiled, rich, teenage pop star would be. She’s a brat, better yet a beotch. But I’m not going to go into it. I loved how her songs related back to Trinity Forest and how she managed to pull people towards her like she was a vacuum and they were dirt. She was a great addition to this story, and I loved how Jennifer built her up.

EMBER – Though we lost Ember in the last book, she is still here in this one. She’s “drowning” as Jennifer put it, but we all know where she really is; she’s trapped in her own body while Oshun has taken over. This is something that is made very obvious through the synopsis and first few chapters, so it’s not really a spoiler. She is able to get through some cracks and take control of her body from time to time, but never for too long. Her character development, though short and sweet because we didn’t see much of her through most of the book, was amazingly done.

JASON – Jason is the older brother everyone wishes they had. He refuses to give up on searching for his sister, and he is completely convinced that Oshun is somehow Ember. One thing is for certain that he and everyone knows; he’s losing his sanity slowly but surely. I felt like, the way Jennifer made him sound crazy, was a great part of this book. It gave off a sense of desperation that would happen to anyone who is trying to find a missing loved one. He believes in all of his theories, and he’s confident about what he will do in finding and bringing his sister home.

MADDIE – Maddie was that one character that I nearly couldn’t stand in this book. She was completely crushing on Jason, and I found this overshadowing the fact that her best friend was missing. It nearly damaged the story enough to the point where I had to take a break every few chapters just to wrap my head around what was actually happening with her. Though she still helped the plot move forward, I wasn’t a huge fan.

XINTRA – This witchy beotch is still around, unfortunately. And she’s getting stronger. I HATED this character, but not because anything was wrong with how she was developed. Jennifer did an amazing job creating her, and I loved how she put her together. It’s the fact that she’s such a cruel woman, I want to reach into the book, pluck her out, and shove her into a fire. Honestly, she’s evil! Who wants her around? #RootingForEmber

TRE – Tre. Loveable, concerned, and cute Tre. I loved his character and how he was developed. Every so often, we would get a look into who he was with, what was happening to him and how. I loved how Jennifer kept him apart of the story, for he was still a major part that you couldn’t take out.

Other than the filler parts of this book and some faults with Maddie, everything else was perfect. I am confident in my choice of giving this book 4.5/5 stars, and I cannot wait to read the third book. Please don’t tell me it’s the final one! I need more than just three books in this.


Review (1)

B1rm9lbD02S._UX250_Jennifer Alsever is a storyteller.

She lives near Vail, Colo. She’s a fan of good wine, great books, the backcountry, rock climbing, skiing, and yoga. She’s been a journalist for more than two decades, writing for the Denver Post, Fortune Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Wired and Fast Company.

In 2017, Alsever published her first work of fiction, the Trinity Forest Series, (Ember Burning, Oshun Rising, and Venus Shining). The young adult trilogy is set in nearby Leadville, Colorado and is about a girl who becomes entangled in a local forest teeming with urban legends of witchcraft and strange disappearances and must not only find herself but ultimately save the world.

In 2018, Alsever joined colleague Doug Brown to start Campfire Content, which provides content marketing, story-mining and storytelling strategy to businesses.

She is currently working on her fourth novel, Psychic Monkeys, available in 2019. She is a 1994 graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder. 

The Last of the Firedrakes by Farah Oomerbhoy [SPOILER-FREE REVIEW]

25781691SYNOPSIS

16-year-old Aurora Darlington is an orphan. Mistreated by her adopted family and bullied at school, she dreams of running away and being free. But when she is kidnapped and dragged through a portal into a magical world, suddenly her old life doesn’t seem so bad.

Avalonia is a dangerous land ruled by powerful mages and a cruel, selfish queen who will do anything to control all seven kingdoms—including killing anyone who stands in her way.

Thrust headlong into this new, magical world, Aurora’s arrival sets plans in motion that threaten to destroy all she holds dear.

With the help of a young fae, a magical pegasus, and a handsome mage, Aurora journeys across Avalonia to learn the truth about her past and unleash the power within herself. Kingdoms collide as a complicated web of political intrigue and ancient magic lead Aurora to unravel a shocking secret that will change her life forever.


Review*I WAS SENT A PHYSICAL COPY IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW*

When I first heard this book was on Wattpad, I got excited! I am a Wattpad writer as well, though more unknown due to the fact that I deleted over half of my books on my account. I have a bit of a problem keeping up with my WIPs.

Anyway, back on topic. This book was everything I expected it to be. It had realistic elements in a fantasy world, and on top of that, it also had a different system of magic. When talking about fantasy books, I feel that they all should have a different magic system. It makes them all a lot more special and unique from other books when they differ.

Farah Oomerbhoy really astounded me with this first book. I loved how the real and fantasy worlds were connected in this book. I loved the tapestry ideas and how everything was laid out. This is one fantasy book I won’t forget for a long time, and I hope to pick up the second book soon!

Here is a list of things I liked about the characters:

AURORA – Going from being a bullied and feeble girl, this character surely built herself up in this book. Though she was a little boy crazy and often depended on someone to save her, she thinks about the greater good and focuses on the situation at hand. She was confident in who she could be and who she already was, and I LOVED how she fought back about her appearance. It always makes me happy to see someone else happy with how they look. Her character development throughout this entire book was splendid, and I can’t wait to see what she does in the next one.

THE BLACK WOLF – This character was very mysterious, and we were always left wondering who he really was other than just the Black Wolf or Rafe. He and Aurora had amazing plot values, and I loved how he was always showing up at random moments. There will be a big reveal about who he actually is in this book, and for me, it wasn’t surprising. I actually saw it coming after I pieced two and two together. That’s one thing I didn’t like in this story that I wish would have had a different take. I dislike being able to know who is actually who, and I wish the author would have done this differently.

THE DUKE OF SILVERTHORNE – This character was actually a big help to the story. I feel like, had he not been added in, Aurora would have probably been left to figure things out on her own. As her great uncle, it’s his duty to kind of take her in and make sure that she has what she needs. After all, Aurora’s parents–though we already know this from the synopsis–are dead, and he is one of the only family members she has left.

All of the characters in this book had amazing character development and a gift for the plot, but these were the main three that I noticed throughout the story.

To wrap this up, I want to say that I loved this story. Though, there were still a few things I didn’t like that I will mention; I didn’t like how some of the parts of the book, particularly ones where Aurora was being saved over and over again because she couldn’t help herself. I feel like, even without any training, us women are able to kick and scream or something of the sort. To me, it felt like Aurora just froze up half the time, save for that one instance with her adoptive uncle. I also didn’t like how she was entirely boy crazy throughout the entire book. It seemed to me that she was thinking about Rafe half the time, and I’m not saying that’s not realistic because it is, but that is a trope that is so overly used that it becomes very annoying.

Because of all of this, I give the book 3.9/5 stars. I would have given it 4/5, had one of the things I didn’t like changed throughout the book instead of keeping the same pace. I do still recommend that you read this story; it is worth your time and definitely a good fantasy.


Review (1)14124424Farah Oomerbhoy is the internationally bestselling author of The Avalonia Chronicles. Her first book, The Last of the Firedrakes, was originally published on Wattpad where it gained over two million reads and a Watty Award. Since publication, her debut has gone on to win a silver medal in IBPA’s Benjamin Franklin Awards and the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, along with winning a finalist placement in the USA Best Book Awards. Farah loves the fantastical and magical and often dreams of living in Narnia, Neverland, or the Enchanted Forest. With a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Mumbai, Farah spends her creative time crafting magical worlds for young adults. She lives with her family in Mumbai, India.

 

Ruin of Stars by Linsey Miller [SPOILER-FREE REVIEW]

29960680.jpgSYNOPSIS

As Opal, Sal finally has the power, prestige, and most importantly the ability to hunt the lords who killed their family. But Sal has to figure out who the culprits are before putting them down. Which means trying to ignore the fact that Elise is being kept a virtual prisoner, and that the queen may have ulterior motives.

And the tales coming out of north are baffling. Talk of dark spirits, missing children, and magic abound. As Sal heads north toward their ruined homeland and the lords who destroyed everything, they learn secrets and truths that can’t be ignored.

 


Review
*I WAS SENT A PHYSICAL ARC FROM THE PUBLISHER IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW*

Firstly, I want to apologize for not posting this sooner. I thought I had already posted it, but it turns out that I completely forgot to hit “Publish”. Secondly, Y’all don’t understand how excited for this book I was. After reading and loving the first book, Mask of Shadows, I knew I had to get the next and last installment to the duology. Linsey Miller has never failed to amaze me, and this book was no different than the first when talking about this factor.

I was actually surprised to see more hate and anguish in this book. The first one seemed to have so much determination in it, and the plot seemed to be so airy. By that, I mean that all of the characters coordinated well and seemed to be able to get their jobs done efficiently. The magic system seemed easy to comprehend and was perfect in every way. That all kind of changed with this book.

This plot seemed much more serious and the determination was at an all-time high. The amount of revenge that I could pick out from the words and actions was crazy. Sal seemed to be determined in her job as Opal, and I didn’t expect half of what she chose to do.

Though the characters were quite different in this book, there were a lot of things I did like about them that changed. Here’s a small list just so I don’t forget anything about specific characters:

SAL – Sal was stricter about her sexuality and gender mannerism. This, I actually found really nice. I’m still learning about new things when it comes to genders and sexualities, so y’all will have to forgive me if I mess up on saying something or forget anything important. One of the characters in this book actually pisses her off about it a lot, and I liked that she fought back about it. She was very confident in who she was, and I find that to be a very important detail that was addressed head-on.

ELISE – Elise’s character, though not seen much, was VERY well developed. As most of you know from reading the first book, she was kidnapped by her father and brought back to her home country. In this book, she really helped move the plot–and all of the action that was put into this book–forward. She and Sal, I have to say, are the ones for each other.

RUBY – Though Ruby wasn’t alive in this book, the character was still very much provided. Opal talked about Ruby a lot, and you never went a chapter without seeing a reference or thought about him. Ruby really drove Opal forward, and I’m happy for that. By the way, the ending will come as a bit of a shocker, but Ruby is for sure apart of it!

These are the characters that I felt had the best qualities and the most character development out of everyone.

To wrap this up, I want to have a short talk about the ending of this book. I know I promised, no spoilers! And I’m not going to give y’all any. But I will say that it came as a huge shock and heavy toll. Tissues may be needed, and multiple lips are going to have to be zipped from the amount of cursing that might come out of them. Linsey Miller definitely knows how to wrap up a story, and this ending definitely did that.

For this, I give the book 4/5 stars. I recommend that all of you preorder this book and read it soon. It was definitely something you won’t be able to escape. After all, who can escape the might and honorable Opal?


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A wayward biology student from Arkansas, Linsey has previously worked as a crime lab intern, neuroscience lab assistant, and pharmacy technician. Her debut novel MASK OF SHADOWS is the first in a fantasy duology coming in September 2017 from Sourcebooks Fire. She can be found writing about science and magic anywhere there is coffee.

Crimson Ash by Haley Sulich [BLOG TOUR + AUTHOR INTERVIEW + GIVEAWAY]

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BOOK INFORMATION

Title: Crimson Ash
Author: Haley Sulich
Publisher: Write Plan
Publication date: 10 May 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia


SYNOPSIS

You may live as a soldier or face death. Choose wisely.

Solanine Lucille wants her little sister back. Eight years ago, the government kidnapped her sister Ember, stole her memories, and transformed her into a soldier. But Solanine refuses to give up. Now that she and her fiancé have located the leader of a rebel group, she believes she can finally bring Ember home. But then the soldiers raid the rebels, killing her fiancé and leaving Solanine alone with her demons and all the weapons needed for revenge.

After raiding a rebel camp, sixteen-year-old Ember doesn’t understand why killing some boy bothers her. She’s a soldier—she has killed hundreds of people without remorse. But after she fails a mission, the rebels hold her hostage and restore her memories. Ember recognizes her sister among the rebels and realizes the boy she killed was Solanine’s fiancé.
Ember knows she can’t hide the truth forever, but Solanine has secrets too.
As their worlds clash, the two sisters must decide if their relationship is worth fighting for. And one wrong move could destroy everything—and everyone—in their path.


BOOK LINKS
Goodreads — https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36572385-crimson-ash
Amazon — http://a.co/iHNSA10
Barnes & Noble — https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/crimson-ash-haley-sulich/1126263473?ean=9781948115001
IndieBound — https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781948115001?aff=goodreads


Review

This book brought me back into the feeling of dystopian societies. I haven’t read a dystopian book in a while, so this was a nice refresher to the genre. Haley Sulich knocked it out of the ballpark with this book. There was just one problem; it’s way too long.

I felt that she could have broken this up into two books at the minimum, especially since there were so many chapters. After the first fifty chapters, the first thing that I thought was, “This book is really really long.” Don’t get me wrong, I love long books. It’s just, you got the feeling that it was going on for too long.

Besides that, I loved everything about this book. The characters–Solanine, Quinn, Kane, Tucker, Cahira, Ember, Nightshade–everyone, was amazing. They all had amazing character development, and they definitely helped to build the story and plot. I was really sad for Quinn, for he barely got any time in the book. In fact, let me go over a few things about the characters that I liked.

Solanine – Even after eight years, she still wanted to save her sister from the City of Soldiers. I give her the “semi-best sister award” for that. I also want to give my condolences for losing her fiancé. That must have been awful to go through, and I hope I never have to go through that in the future.

Ember – Though she couldn’t remember anything, I give her credit for at least holding back a little bit. She fought against what she was doomed to suffer with, and I think that’s really brave. The relationship she and her sister have is pretty complicated, but I’m glad that they at least have one. I am also not a big LGBTQ+ reader, but she was really used well to express that in this book.

Quinn – Though we didn’t get to see him much, he was a great beginning to the story. You could physically feel the love he had for Solanine radiating off of him, and he’s a fictional character! I really liked how he, I guess you could say, sacrificed himself for his fiancee.

Tucker – Best big brother award over here! The way Tucker protected his sister as soon as she got back to the camp was actually amazing, and I loved his addition to this story. I liked how he kept his dreams, even after all hope for the world was gone. He was also there for Solanine after her fiancé died, so he deserves the best friend award too.

Kane – Prosthetic arm or not, this dude is amazing. I loved his character and seriously fell after he helped Solanine conquer her addiction. He was PERFECT. I almost died when some of the events occurred (I can’t tell you because that would be spoiling, and I’m not about that life). Seriously, give me a Kane to love over here! Indiana boys are too boring and uuuuuugly.

Cahira – This girl scared me a bit. I was happy with her character at the beginning of the book, and most of the way through. Then, things kind of went off the hill. I get that this book also centers on self-harm, suicide, and multiple other things, but I felt like it was overused, if you know what I mean. Cahira’s character was all good in the beginning; she was relatable and understanding. But then she did something twice, and it became kind of unbelievable in the “it’s not unbelievable in a good way, but unbelievable as in it’s unbelievable”. That probably made no sense, but oh well.

Nightshade – I liked that Haley included a mother figure in this book. As you know, most, if not all, of the characters lost their parents (this is a Dystopian book, so that’s not really a spoiler). I liked how she had her secrets but then released them to the girl she trusted (*cough cough* Solanine *cough cough*). I also liked how she contributed a lot when it came down to rounding up the ex-soldiers. She was like the mother to everyone.

Like I said before, I really enjoyed this book. The plot was well thought out, the characters were well developed, and the story moved along. For everything I’ve listed, I give this book 4/5 stars. I really hope to read more from Haley Sulich in the future.


Review (1)

Haley SulichHaley Sulich currently lives in Minnesota, but she hopes to own a house near the beach someday. Her writing inspiration stems from her battle with depression, which shows the darker elements of Crimson Ash. Starting out on Wattpad, she was a Featured Author on the site for over a year. She’s also the founder of the book-editing and publishing company Write Plan. When she isn’t writing or editing, she likes watching horror movies, paintballing, taking photographs, and eating ice cream, which happens to be half of her diet.


AUTHOR LINKS
Author Website — http://haleysulich.com/
Goodreads — https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17316684.Haley_Sulich
Twitter — http://twitter.com/HaleySulich


Review (2)

Q1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
A1. During junior high. My English teacher held a short story contest for Halloween. It was called “The Tale of Terror Contest.” Everyone was required to write a story for it, and at that time I didn’t think I was any good at writing. I hadn’t ever written before, only read books. I ended up winning the contest. After that, I got into writing and worked my way up to writing novels. I’ve been writing ever since.

Q2. How long does it take you to write a book?
A2. Usually, I can write the first draft within one summer (about 3 months).

Q3. What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
A3. When I write in the summer, I have much more free time because I only have freelance editing projects to focus on. I started writing my next WIP this winter, and that’s been a lot harder since I have many freelance projects during this time and am also taking some business-related classes to help my book editing and publishing company. The only free time I have to write during the winter months is later in the evening (8 to 12).

Q4. What’s the best way to market your books?
A4. The best way is word-of-mouth, especially with book bloggers and giveaways.

Q5. What did you edit out of this book?
A5. There wasn’t too much I edited out of the book. The only things I can think of are some of the romance scenes and a scene that revealed the antagonist’s intentions/the reason why he’s so twisted and broken. But one of my editors suggested to cut that scene with the antagonist and I did. I’m really regretting that decision based on the reviews I’ve received for Crimson Ash. A lot of readers have been commenting that they don’t fully understand the antagonist. I wish I would’ve found a way to keep that scene or clarify the antagonist’s intentions elsewhere.



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